bread we had left over. It was a quiet evening of packing and downloading some new music
for my MP3 player. He flies to Bouquetta and I to Boca Del Toro. I was surprised it never
rained the three days I’ve been in Clayton but Mirko said it never rained the whole week yet it
was a downpour in Panama City every afternoon. “Smiling at the World” proved good
been not showering, but the weather is such that of the last three places I’ve stayed, only one
had hot water. A cold shower definitely wakes the mind and body. Today’s horoscope reads
“Wednesday, January 23
contacts you make at this time will probably be able to assist you in achieving some of your
goals and aspirations. And there should be quite a few opportunities for you to make some
new friends and increase your social circle today.” Great start!
Indian Panamanians. You could view the canal on take off
brought them to a fenced in area where only one person at a time had to claim their bag.
us about two blocks the the Main drag and we all had a hotel within a block.
restaurant. I have an Internet connection in the lobby, Air Conditioning, Cable, but NO HOT
WATER. I think I’m going to enjoy this week. I had to add a day to my reservation because
the plane I waited to book to Bouqette was full. Mirko sent me a message from Bouqette that
he was unable to book me a room there but offered to try at the place he was staying. He is
going to try again tomorrow but if he can’t, I told him to book at his place. He is climbing the
highest mountain in Panama and camping there near the volcano. You can see the sun rise
over the Atlantic side and set on the Pacific side from there. I would join him but at 11500 feet
I am going to pass.
breakfast I should be fine. Locked my money and passport in the safe and am off to enjoy the
wild night life. The horoscope may be right?
Panama City and confirm my reservation in February for me but as for expanding my Social
Circle, it was a bust. The town was like walking down the Midway at an old 50´s Carnival.
There were vendors selling hand crafts like jewelry, necklaces, clothes, bags, and all different
types of food. There were Caribbean hamburgs, coconut drinks, fruit shakes, hot dogs, and
assorted Panamanian snacks I´m not sure of.
I told him I would sleep on it. Just as I was getting close to home he pulled up on a bicycle
and offered it to me. It wasn’t enough to roll two joints. I told him a dollar and he said $10. I
said I would never buy anything from a person that tried to cheat me like he was doing. Later
I discovered Panama Red goes for $400 a half ounce.
to rain about 1 am. I fell asleep to the torrential rain storm. It was comforting.
Then I realized it was the couple in the room behind me rocking my bed. The beds are
attached to the walls and they going at it. I was horny enough without that.
again so I decided to take my cold shower and check out the breakfast. Surprise…HOT water.
I had checked the sink when I arrived and it was cold but the shower was great. My first hot
shower in days. I didn´t want to get out. Now everything is complete thanks to the hot water.
They even accept Visa. I was told when I booked that only local currency was accepted so I
made a special trip to the ATM and drained my spending money account of $400…now in the
with cold …you guessed it…ham and cheese with bread. I did manage one egg that was
actually cooked right.
and wipe down all the furniture too. This is definitely the cleanest hotel in Boca Del Toro. I
was relieved that the guard dog stopped barking when the workers arrived next door, until
they started building cabinets with saws buzzing at 100 decibels until I had to leave.
along the water and had my espresso while photographing the rain I need to meet some locals
that aren´t drug dealers tonight.
the town. After checking my email at the local Internet café, I bought a map of Boca for $2 and
found my perch across the street on a covered patio.
settled for what came to be six Panama beers. I noticed a guy sitting the next table down
doing the same thing I was doing so introduced myself and asked about the local scene. His
name was Chuck and he was from Cincinnati via Chicago. He had been in Boca two weeks and
his friend was playing in a band tonight that backed up the main band of the Lemongrass Bar
on the Ocean. He also recommended Refugio, a bar a passed this morning on my walk. He
said the food was great and they have a guitarist from Austin, Texas that is top notch. He
starts at 7pm or in an hour from what is now.
small town population 1500. I felt I was in Key West one minute and Chiquita, Costa Rica
the next, then Haight-Ashbury in the 60’s. I saw Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Mulatto, Muslims
,Hippies, Tourists , Bicycles, ATVs, Jeeps, Trucks, Skateboarders, Backpackers, Motorcycles,
Buses, Skaters, and people going by in vehicles I had never seen. Everybody was friendly and
cheerful. Chuck left then returned later with Chris from San Francisco and a beautiful Panama
nian girl who was his friend’s girl. Later he showed and explained he was only playing back up
to the house band that was REALLY good. I explained I can only handle one nightclub a night
and then I left. I stopped for some Rum and water I returned to Cala Luna just before the
evening rain started. Passing through the Park I noticed the trees…climb one of these:
people get off the plane (which is a block away in the town) and expect a big city with all the
amenities. Some call and ask if he will pay to have them delivered to the hotel. I always tell
them yes. Then they get in the taxi, drive one block and drop them off…it cost him $1. You
can actually walk into town in 10 minutes from the airport. I like the atmosphere and enjoy
the laid back attitude of the residents and guests. Tonight I hope to find out more about the
night life than last night.
and three boys. They have been in Boca for 13 years and saw it grow into a surfer and hippie
haven. Both are anxious to move elsewhere. One boy is about fourteen and the other children
are young. They have Nintendo and sit for hours playing video games. Tonight I was
pleasantly surprised to find them playing war games with an elaborate set of Union and
Confederate soldiers. The South was winning. I explained that the South actually lost the war
when the older boy corrected me, “Not this battle”!
I’m sure they are from the States after he greeted me with Good Afternoon. I’m finishing my
fresh Pineapple and Rum drink and heading out for some food and music. The rooster that
woke me with the guard dog at sunrise was crowing as I left at sunset.
walking, chatter and music everywhere. I never was hassled to buy crap or approached
(except once) to buy drugs. This is a very safe place that reminds me of Rocky Point in ’76. I
took the back road to Refugio and went one block North to run into a dead end at the Airport.
Alberto was right that it is only one block to the Airport. I will walk it when I leave. Some
children gave me directions to go back one block and just continue up the same street that
Cala Luna in on.
3. I asked a hippie that was American and he knew nothing of the place. I asked a man that
looked like a policeman but turned out he just dressed like that. He in turn asked some
women in the street and they sent me back where I came from. It appears I walked right by
the place. I was listening for music because I was told the band started at 7pm and it was
close to 7:30pm when I finally arrived. I needed a Bano and asked the waitress. She was
directing me when a man in a Western shirt came by and said, “I left the door open for ya”. I
ordered a Rum drink with fruit and upon returning I had a sweet drink with Kiwi and Rum
that was delicious. I asked the barmaid from Vancouver , B.C. , who traded in skiing for surfing
if I could eat at the bar. She gave me a menu and I ordered Pork Meatloaf. I then noticed the
guy with the Western shirt sitting with another wearing a 10 gallon Texas hat.
their wives and very young children with them and had been here many times before. Chuck,
the guy from Cincinnati-Chicago that I met early showed up and joined me at the bar. The
music started with the Cowboy shirt guy announcing that he was single and if anyone else
wanted to meet him he would be at the bar later. Then he proceeded to talk about the
featured entertainer with the Cowboy hat that was with his wife. She was the one that had her
tit out feeding her baby. He didn’t apologize for that and just started singing. He was old and
I ordered another drink while chatting with Chuck. He is planning on retiring after he
completes a job with GE back in Chicago. He is an Electrical Engineer who, if he solves 300
problems on this GE project, will have enough money to finally call it quits. My Pork Meatloaf
arrived and Chuck went to the other bar to hear his friend play.
I suffered through the first set before Doug Moreland took the stage and put on a great
act. I finished the delicious meal with garlic mashed potatoes, fresh mixed vegetables, and my
watched B.C. mix a couple of them and I was convinced she did it right. A gallon of Caciaco
Cane Liquor, some limes and sugar.
to buy a retirement home just outside of San Jose , Costa Rica. Since then, they have been to
Boca a couple of times and are enjoying their retirement. She was originally from Plattsburg ,
N.Y. and knew of Attica. Then three young Panamanians, around 8-10 years of age, came in to
sell some jewelry and stuff. Two had large boards with the earring and necklaces on them and
the other had just a small box full of the same. He was charming and had a personality.
Earlier today he asked if he could shine my sandals for me and I almost let him. He would
disarm people with his smile, sense of humor and laughter and they would immediately invite
him over to look through his box. This gave him a chance to sell them. Every they picked up
something out of the box, he would comment about how that was perfect for them. The other
boys were growing impatient but he just ignored them and went right on talking to the
Gringos with his head cocked and a big irresistible smile on his face until he sold them
something. I finished taking some photos and headed back to Cala Luna.
Dominoes under the dim street light. I proceeded down the dark street until I reached my
was in addition to the Pizza. He explained they did it every night and the huge T-Bone steak
on the grill looked great. I vowed to eat one before I left and then ordered a Pineapple drink
for mix back in the room. I would sit on the patio,hoping to meet my neighbors before I
retired. I wanted to tell them that when we enter these rooms we turn on the switch to turn on
the lights. The problem is, the switch is for the outdoor light and we don’t know it. After your
in the room we pull the light cord hanging and think that the switch powered it, then go to bed
with the outside light on all night shining in the window. It takes a day or two before you
realize that. Last night my neighbor left it on all night and I want these people to know so both
of us don’t keep waking up at 3 am thinking it is daylight outside.
introduced myself. They explained they were leaving today so my spiel was pointless. Right
after that, the lady next door was going into her room and asked if I thought the clouds would
clear so they might spend some time on the beach? She was from Holland and her husband
was from Portugal. They lived by the beach there but are so busy at home they hardly have
time to enjoy it. They took a break from the cold and flew from Lisbon to Caracas then to
Havana and on to Martinique before flying into Costa Rica and Panama. They had hoped this
would be the first day of sunbathing on the beach as the last week had been rainy everywhere.
The day cleared and I think they left there bags to take a trip to the beach before flying out this
Please ignore the following Rant…Explanation will follow after….
water. After visiting a few places and meeting Americans from Costa Rica, I went on to the
local place for one two many Cuba Libras. Then I went back to this bar where I met Don and
Pam from Ontario that ran a restaurant here in Bocas a few years back and now have their son
here staying at their condo. They did recommend I take the sunset tour on Bocas for $2 . Later
I met Bob from Teluride , Colorado that was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive and was
assigned to MACV when I was there. He worked at the docks and knew the places I used to go.
We decided to buy some smoke but the first guy turned us off with his high prices and
small amount. We decided, for old time sake, to buy some but to negotiate.. I went to the
bathroom and on returning he told me he struck a deal with the guy and the Smoke was in the
cigarette pack. I only saw a small amount but agreed with him that we only wanted to taste
it and shared that old experience. We got to his room to find there was zero in the pack ….the
man pulled a fast one and he paid for nothing. I told him not to worry but he returned and
paid $5.00 for what he thought was A OK. We returned to his apartment and there was his
Vietnam buddy he grew up with and a young girl that was really cool. We popped some hole in
a coke can and proceeded to smoke the little bit he had….It was good then later we decided to
go to Beerbohm Fuck bar that was having a party. A downfall later we were totally lost . After
asking the Police where we were, we finally found the Bheahm Fucher bar and had drinks with
a guy from Newburyport Mass that just married a 21 year old Paaaaaanamamnaian and ran a
bar in David called Panama Bills. I was totaled when I arrived at Cala Cuna and bought some
Chicken for $1 from a street vendor with the special sauce.
DRENCHED IN A RAINS STORM BUT VIETNAM VETS NEVER COMPLAIN.
It was 4:30 am when I was trying to get everything down that happened that evening. I was
afraid I wouldn’t remember when I woke in the morning.
The following is an interpretation of the preceding.
the first place but the Rum and Coke was $3 and I thought it a rip though the view from the
dock bar was beautiful. There were water taxis next door taking people back in forth to
Cararios Island across the way for $1.
that were living in Puerto Viejo , Costa Rica and were visiting Panama. One was from
Brooklyn and the other from Florida. They had just finished these HUGE Caribbean
Hamburgers but I was thirsty not hungry. My waitress was from Panama City and spoke
excellent English. I inquired about the Happy Hour special that said all mixed drinks for $1.50
but after 3 I got the bill for $3. She explained that a Cuba Libra is a specialty drink? I left for
the best Happy Hour in town at the Pirates Cove.
watching the sunset when Pam and Don arrived. They had lived here a year ago. Pam ran a
restaurant and Don ran tours on his boat. They sold out after dealing with Panamanians that
never showed for work but you couldn’t fire them. They had to hire Panamanians and pay
medical…etc. They sold the business and returned to Ontario, Canada so Don could have a
hip operation. He ran an Apple orchard and a boat tour business on Georgia Bay. They kept
there small home here so they could return for the winter. His son was there now while they
rented a small room. He said he hired Mexicans in Canada to pick Apples, then he tried
Jamaicans, and now had Romanians. They had to pay the prevailing wage, buy their tickets
back and forth, pick them up at the airport, provide a place for them to stay, etc. They told me
about the $2 sunset cruise everyday that went around the Island and recommended I eat a
Pulled Pork sandwich at Bohmfauk’s bar near the park.
Kansas and living in Telluride, Colorado where he is a journalist-photographer for a small
local Western paper. Bob said he did that yesterday, got drunk and fell into the water trying
to get in the boat on the return trip. It wouldn’t be so bad but he lost his eye Contacts, wallet
with credit card and money, and to top it off his passport. He emailed his doctor to send his
contacts so he can see…because now he can’t write, which is his job . We were in Saigon at
the same time during Tet Offensive in 67-68 . He was with MACV, as I was, and was
stationed at the docks. We shared some stories and a few drinks . Bob invited to meet his
week from him for $100, and his roommate that he grew up with from Kansas. Greg
MacDonald, his friend, now lived in North Carolina and was also in Vietnam when I was. We
went to Refugio’s to see if the guitarist was still played but he wasn’t. We returned to his
apartment passing a Caribbean band of about 15-20 people dancing in the street.
but it was now 1:30 am.
I had no clue what day it was. I should have realized when I inquired
about the party that was supposed take place that night and was told that was yesterday! It
took us forever to find the place though I think we walked right by it three times. Bohmfauks
is a real person and that is his name. He came from New Orleans a few years back and bought
this Expat hangout, restaurant and sports bar. We drank a lot of beer chatting with him. I
also found out that Greg knew the lady that owns the Photo shop in Tombstone where my
friends from Holland, Peter and Jeannette had there photo taken in old western clothes for
the cover of the CD they gave to everyone at their wedding. Small world. Panama Bill showed
up to join us. He was from Newburyport, Massachusetts, been here a year or so and was
around 50 years old. He bought a bar in David and just recently married a 21 year old
Panamanian girl. Bob had left us after the first beer. He never said anything but I thought he
was going to pass out and then just walked out the door, never to return.
put it in a bag then you add some hot sauce in the bag and shake it to season it. I must say it
was delicious but it was the first food I’d had in 12 hours. I did sleep well and late the next
Every night since I checked it the place was full with everyone eating Alberto’s great Pizza and
now in the middle of season the restaurant was closed? There was a very official looking man
that confronted Alberto and his wife just before they closed. They had a long and heated
argument then the man left very angry. He must have had something to do with the closing
because they closed that day. Neither of them have been happy since the closing. I don’t think
it was because of a health code violation. This is the cleanest place I’ve ever stayed. Maybe a
lapsed permit or one never obtained.
they weren’t there. I had the “Kill Me Man” Chicken and Salad for lunch. I thought I was
going to burst into flames. The waitress came over to ask if I was done using the condiments.
My eyes were watering, my face flushed, and I couldn’t talk. The next day it was like I had a
firecracker up my ass.
Bohmfauk’s and had an excellent pulled pork sandwich with Cole slaw. Bill the owner was
there and I asked him why he didn’t throw us out last night. He said we were all friends and
having a good time. Besides, he had a door man that watched the outside and thought he
would come in and ask to go home. He would then announce that we had to leave. The
bouncer-watchman had fallen asleep on the porch.
produces some of the best coffee in the world. They were closed as was the Pharmacia next
door where I vowed to buy a decent map of Boca. It was Sunday. Breakfast on the docks next
door was good and cheap.
Mirko was staying in. Alberto called for me and confirmed Mirko had booked the room for
me. Now it is time for me to call Mom and book an air flight to Panama City before that fills
up. On the way up to the room, I showed Alberto a large Crab that passed in front of me and
inquired if that was going to be on our menu tonight?
finished calling my Mother in Attica on Magic Jack over the computer network here when I
heard a band in the distance. I learned to follow my instincts and grabbed my camera.
arrived on the street, I realized it was a funeral.
Hotel Rumba for the game. On the way out we encountered the “Wake” for the dead man.
The driver explained he was a young man that owned a disco we passed. He was dehydrated
and before they could help him, he expired. After the burial everyone went to his bar to
celebrate. He had been a musician so all of the musicians from Boca came to play and pay
homage. The streets were lined with people along the beach area on the way to the Rumba.
get stuck on the mainland if I couldn’t get into the game. I arrived just in time and sent the
Taxi on his way.
within three hands. I never even got to put up a blind…the ante.
Island Iced Tea but here they measure everything. It was good but a beer was a better bet for
$.75. I waited and played the second game. The games go quick because they play with
$2200 in chips and in New River we play with either $4000 or $5000 so obviously it takes
longer to lose. I seem to be the exception to that rule. The view was great while I waited for
the next game.
I asked him to take me to Bohmfaulks for a drink.
McDonald and Bob was Roberto Cerveza…or Bob Beer. A very apt name for him. I didn’t
have all my names right two nights before.
a vest with bare chest and a sharks tooth necklace. I asked where in N.Y. he was from and he
said Hudson. That’s not NYC. I questioned him, as he was spouting off about all he knew
about Panama. We started talking about the 30 day Visa that I have to renew. He told me it
was 90 days and not to worry. I bet him a drink and he took me up on it so I went over to Bill
Bohmfaulks the owner to discover Bobby was right. I bought another round…Bobby ordered
a drink and insisted I deliver it to his table while he gloated in front of his friends. It was all
Plymouth , Mass. When I mentioned I opened my first restaurant just outside in Manomet,
his girlfriend Maggie Mac Rae introduced herself as being born and bred in Manomet. She
lived at White Horse Beach and knew all the places and the people I did. She used to work at
the Lobster Pound at the tip of the point where I used to hang out and buy lobster. We all
exchanged e-mails and I told them I would visit this summer. They are planning on returning
to Boca to build a home and figure in five years they can sell and travel. They were in their
We took some photos, had our last calls,and took off to the Fried Chicken place across the
street. I decided I wanted to try the Caribbean Burgers and noticed they served the chicken
too. I ordered both and returned to see how Greg was doing. They were out of Chicken at the
Kiosk so he order beef Shish Kabobs that were to die for. He had met a guy from the States that just came from Costa Rica where
his wallet, passport and credit cards were lifted in Heredia. It was his first time traveling out
watchman let me in the gate and I retired to eat the Chicken.
We are all supposed to meet for the 5:30 Island Sunset tour tomorrow….we shall see.
Starfish Coffee house on the water. While there, a lady from California came in. She was
studying Spanish. Her and her husband had a place in Mexico they visited quite often and
decided to go somewhere different. I passed some homes and businesses while returning.
and they still use it!
One business caught my attention. At night it was the lady’s home. In the front she ran a
clothing shop then had curtains to separated the front from the back. The whole home
/business was covered in tarp to keep the rain out and I doubt she had running water or a
I don’t think I’d like living there.
look for them stopping in about 5 bars before finding them at Bohmfaulks talking with
Victoria. She had been a Stewardess for World Airlines and traveled the world. Three years
ago she came to Boca are rented a place on the water with no hot water but a cute place. Then
her cat of 15 years died, she fell and cut her head open and needed 20 stitches, then contracted
Dengue and almost died. The neighbors bought her a new cat. The hospital charged her
$1.25 for her stitches and did such a good job that she has no scars. She suffered for a week
with Dengue. Throwing up everyday, running a high fever and chills, couldn’t eat anything but
survived. She said it was the worst she had ever been through. Victoria said that many
Chinese moved to Boca after the Canal was built. Most of them moved from here later but now
are coming back to Boca and investing in Panama. I had an Italian Sausage sandwich then we
all went to Bob and Greg’s apartment to try and figure out how to run this $1200 video camera
he bought for the trip. None of us could and I returned home with a promise that we would go
on the sunset cruise tomorrow.
Canadian was there finishing his coffee when I arrived. After a great breakfast for $3.50. As I
was returning to the Hostal I heard someone yell at me and I saw a man across the street
waving at me. I got closer and recognized him as one of the Poker Players. He invited me
out this evening for another game at 7:30 but I explained I was off on the Barco Sunset tour
and couldn’t make it. There will be a second game later if I decided to join them. I thanked
him and went back to Cala Luna. Today was the best weather. It was sunny and breezy with
half and hour so I went over to Bohmfalks to have a beer on the porch. I could see if they
came by to meet me. I returned to find that the tour was canceled and they weren’t there so I
took a water taxi to the Island to watch the sunset.
for a party on the Island that they were invited to. They had their guitars and were going to
play and make a night of it. I bowed out, knowing that if I went they would stay and I would
return by myself.
Sausage Gumbo. There I met Neil Saunders from Montana who arrived here four years ago to
help open a restaurant. He worked on that for a year until the people that hired him had a
row and he left to open a Paving Tile business. He bought the rights to the formula and taught
Panamanians how to make the tiles. Now he is the only one in town with these special tiles
that hold up in this humidity.
Refugio and had a beer on the dock. The sunset was my last in Boca.
band stands being set up for the start of the Carnival. The Hamburg place was open with a
line as usual. I bought two and returned to set up a wake up call for the morning.